I don’t know about you but this weather we are having at the moment isn’t lifting my spirits at all, the kids are full of germs which they are generously sharing out to mum and dad, leaving me with a week of cancelled sessions for both myself and my clients. This time of year should be full of smiles, sunshine and excitement to what the summer holidays will bring. At the moment it is getting wet every time you step out of the front door, cancelled village fetes and damp BBQs!
So when I am feeling like this I need to be able to lift my spirits, and what better way then to get into the gym and lift weights! Having battled my cold virus with lots of water, red peppers, oranges and rest I am now raring to go again and get back to progressing on the all-important compound lifts that I have been concentrating on in my training to improve my strength which in-turn improves my rowing performance.
Compound lifts are amazing and brilliant for changing your body-shape, they save time letting you concentrate on cardio, strength and flexibility together, so for anyone who wants to work all these areas they are a fantastic go to exercise. Don’t get me wrong isolation exercises where you are concentrating on specific muscle groups are great for body-sculpting and for people who have more time in the gym, but, they don’t give the individual all the maximum benefits a compound exercise can give for the same time and energy they’ve used.
The benefits of compound exercises are great, as exercises such as lunges, steps or squats move your hips in all directions (or planes if you want to get technical), in doing so they can help make all the muscles that work together to produce the force to perform the movement much stronger, so improving your mobility and improving your strength. They also get your heart rate up much more than just working one muscle group. Take for example a standing bicep curl, your heart rate won’t really be raised as you aren’t using a large amount of muscle tissue but if you perform a set of thrusters or even burpees, well, hello heartbeat! The reason being that you are using more muscle tissues as your using MORE muscles so your heart is being pushed to pump the blood to the muscles that are being worked - simples!
Using compound movements helps improve your overall flexibility as well as improve the way you move, your posture and balance. The compound movements of the exercise teach the large group of muscles involved how to organise the firing motor units which are in charge of starting the muscle contractions. Also when individuals perform these exercises the movements learned from them as well as the balance they also get will help them in other parts of their life, these are called functional movements - such as carrying bags - deadlifts, picking up heavy things - deadlifts, getting up from the sofa - squats and walking up the stairs - lunges, to name but a few.
All the above are just some of the MANY reasons to start lifting weights, it may seem like a minefield of information out there and you may feel intimidated, I did when I first started. My next blog will be about the benefits lifting has to women, especially premenopausal - post menopausal, it will explain about fuelling your body after your sessions, and how you won’t start looking like the incredible hulk, but how you will feel stronger , more confident in your body and how it WILL also improve your mental health.